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Shock loss for Saina in New Zealand Open

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Saina Nehwal.

Auckland: Young Chinese shuttler Wang Zhiyi caused a major upset in the ongoing New Zealand Open as the 19-year-old outclassed World no. 8 Saina Nehwal in a first round match here.

Saina lost 16-21, 23-21, 4-21 to world No.212 Zhiyi in an hour and seven minutes to bow out of the competition early after which the Indian challenge in the women’s single category also ended.

Before Saina, another Indian Anura Prabhudesai also went down 9-21, 10-21 to 2012 Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui of China.

In the men’s singles, Lakshya Sen also crashed out of the tournament after a hard fought 21-15, 18-21, 10-21 loss against Taiwan’s Wang Tzu Wei in the 68-minute affair.

Earlier in the day, the Indian pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy also lost their women’s double match against the Chinese pair of Liu Xuanxuan-Xia Yuting 14-21, 23-21, 14-21.

However, there was some good news from the men’s double category as the Indian pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy thrashed New Zealand’s Joshua Feng-Jack Jiang 21-17, 21-10 in just 18 minutes.

Also, experienced shuttler HS Prannoy had an easy outing against Indonesia’s Loh Kean Yew as the Indian defeated his opponent 21-15, 21-14 in 37 minutes. Prannoy will now be up against second seed Tommy Sugiarto in the next round.

Meanwhile, Sai Praneeth also got the better of compatriot Shubhankar Dey 21-17, 19-21, 21-15 in the one hour and 11 minute contest. He will now take on two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China in the second round.

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India beaten by China, out of Sudirman Cup badminton tourney

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Nanning: India crashed out of the Sudirman Cup mixed team badminton championships after losing 0-5 to China in the second and final Group -1D match at Nanning in China today.

India’s mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy lost to Chinese combination of Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping 5-21 11-21 to trail 0-1.

Sameer Verma, who took the court after Kidambi Srikanth suffered a minor injury during practice sessions, lost to Olympic champion Chen Long 17-21 20-22 in the men’s singles as India slumped to 0-2 deficit.

The pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty was beaten by the world no 7 duo of Han Chengkai and Zhou Haodong 21-18 15-21 17-21 in the men’s doubles to draw curtains to India’s campaign.

Saina Nehwal then went down 12-21 17-21 to All England Champion Chen Yufei in women’s singles match, while World no 3 women’s doubles pair of Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan beat Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki 21-12 21-15.

India had lost to Malaysia, 2-3 in their opening Group-1D match on Tuesday. India have never won a medal in the tournament. It reached the quarterfinals in 2011 and 2017.

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Indian shuttlers target podium spots in Sudirman Cup

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Nanning (China): Top shuttlers P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will spearhead the Indian challenge at the prestigious Sudirman Cup which gets underway here on Sunday.

India, who reached the quarterfinals twice in 2011 and 2017, will continue their hunt for an elusive medal in the mixed team championship.

Placed in Group 1D, India will have to beat the mighty China and 2009 semifinalist Malaysia to qualify from the group.

For that to happen, the likes of reigning BWF World Tour Finals winner Sindhu, 2019 Indonesia Masters champion Nehwal, 2019 India Open finalist Kidambi Srikanth and BWF World Tour Finals semifinalist Sameer Verma will have to come good.

As a team, India, seeded eighth this time, did beat Malaysia enroute an unprecedented team gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. The 13-member contingent will also have an advantage, as former World No. 1 Malaysian Lee Chong Wei is not taking part in the tournament this time.

Malaysia will rest their hopes on Lee Zii Jia in the men’s singles while Goh Jin Wei or Soniia Cheah will lead the charge in the women’s singles.

In the last edition, India stunned 1989 winners Indonesia on their way to the quarter-final where they lost to eventual runners-up China.

India will take on Malaysia on Monday before locking horns with 10-time champions China the next day.

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BWF launches outdoor badminton game

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AirBadminton will enable badminton to played outdoors. Photo:@BWF

Guangzhou (China): Playing badminton on the beach? Yes, it is now becoming real and official.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) launched a new outdoor game, AirBadminton, and a new outdoor shuttlecock, the AirShuttle, at a global launch ceremony.

“This is a momentous occasion for badminton. Strategically, AirBadminton will allow us to fulfill our overall objective of putting a badminton racket in the hands of as many people as possible,” BWF President Poul-Erik Hoyer said at the launching ceremony here in Guangzhou on Monday.

AirBadminton is designed to create opportunities for people of all ages to play badminton on hard, grass and sand surfaces in parks, gardens, streets, playgrounds and beaches, according to the BWF’s official announcement.

The BWF said the new outdoor game is also played on new court dimensions, making it more suitable to play in outdoor environments, and on hard, grass and sand surfaces around the world.

Hoyer said AirBadminton provides a pathway for increased global participation in the sport, while opening up doors for a new, highly attractive form of competitive badminton.

“Given that most people’s first experience with badminton comes in an outdoor environment, we are now making it easier for everyone to access the sport through a new outdoor game and new shuttlecock, the AirShuttle,” he said.

Hoyer said the project has been five years in the making, starting with a vision to develop a new outdoor shuttlecock with increased durability, stability and wind resistance to allow people to have a more positive experience of playing badminton outdoors.

The BWF is currently working with sports manufacturers to mass produce and rollout the AirShuttle. The eventual aim is for the shuttlecock to be played in winds up to 12 kilometers per hour.

“In the future, we see AirBadminton as an exciting, new, energetic version of the sport. Overall, the aim is to inspire more people to play more badminton in more places,” Hoyer added.

According to the BWF, Badminton has more than 300 million active players globally, most of which are in Asia and Europe.

“It’s also great that it is an inclusive game that can be enjoyed by people with disabilities,” said Dong Jiong, Atlanta 1996 men’s singles silver medallist and now Chinese national Para badminton head coach, who joined Hoyer in unveiling the AirShuttle.

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